Vijayawada: Andhra Pradesh seems to be heading for a health crisis with nearly 5,000 medical students gearing up to boycott all duties including Covid care in protest against an inordinate delay in stipend hike. Already 300 senior residents along with over 800 final year PG have served a strike notice on the government and others are expected to join them. Their list of demands include: hike in stipend to senior residents to Rs 80,000 with retrospective effect from January, 2020; TDS waiver on stipend; and, incentives for Covid duty, especially for ground-level medicos like interns, postgraduates and senior residents.
The contention of senior residents is that they are getting just a monthly stipend of Rs 45,000. Even though it is mandatory to hike it every two years, the hike has been kept pending since January 2020. They say this is resulting in getting less stipend than their junior postgraduates. They claim the neighbouring Telangana state is paying Rs 80,500 as stipend to the senior residents and other states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are providing Covid incentives, while AIIMS is offering Rs 1.05 lakh as stipend to the senior residents.
They say that though they submitted several representations to the health authorities since November 2019 for hike in their stipend and other incentives, there had been no response.
AP Senior Resident Doctor Association president Dr Ravi Banoth said, “As the
state health authorities are not responding to our long-pending demand for hike in stipend and sanction of Covid incentives, we are forced to boycott all our duties by alerting the authorities concerned in advance to make alternate arrangements. As CM Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy appreciated the healthcare workers for Covid care recently and wanted any issues to be taken to his notice, we want to meet CM and apprise him of our problems. We have confidence that he would resolve them. We have no intention to trouble the patients.”
Meanwhile, junior doctors including the PG first, second and final year students and house surgeons are also getting ready to boycott all duties with the same demands. They say that the first year students are getting a monthly stipend of Rs 48,000, second year Rs 46,500, final years Rs 44,075 and house surgeons Rs 18,000. Though they received a communication from the office of director of medical education to consider them for senior residentship, there was no mention about hike in stipend. AP Junior Doctors Association president Dr Rahul Roy said, “We are also going to boycott all duties along with senior residents for hike in stipend and other incentives if the health authorities fail to respond to our pleas.”
The state government relies upon the services of junior doctors and senior
residents for providing all health care including Covid treatment. Senior doctors take care of critical cases and any strike will have a major impact on the entire health care in the state at a time when the caseload of Covid cases is showing a gradual dip and vaccination is going on at a brisk pace.